Sunday, January 31, 2010

Increase in Diabetes Symptomatic of the Problems that Plague our Society

Diabetes in Kansas: A pending tidal wave  by Christine Metz, Lawrence Journal World

"The number is so large — $174 billion — that if what Americans spend on diabetes were a country, its economy would rank 45th in the world.

To treat a diabetic costs $11,744 a year. Much of that cost is picked up by health insurance and Medicaid or Medicare. In the end, it is estimated that every Kansan has to pay $566 a year for diabetes through higher health insurance premiums and the added burden on the Medicaid and Medicare system. That cost has gone up by 32 percent in the past six years, Eberhart-Phillips said.

'Don’t tell me that you don’t want to raise taxes. By not doing something about the diabetes problem, your constituents are already paying a higher and higher tax,' he said."

"If the entire American population could shift its weight downward by 10 to 20 pounds, it would prevent 60 percent of future diabetes cases, Eberhart-Phillips said.

'If we could solve that, if we could get people’s weights back to where they belong, to what is natural and normal for human species … then we will be going a long way to control not only diabetes, but heart disease, stroke, cancer, all the major killers,' he said."

"'The decisions that most impact people’s health are made by people who have nothing to do with health, nothing to do with medicine directly,” he said. “It is people who run school systems, it is people who run transportation systems, it is people who plan and design our cities. They are the people who place shopping centers three miles from where anyone can walk to them.'

On the pyramid of what prevention methods work the best, the one with the smallest impact is telling people they need to change their behavior. Creating environments that lead to healthier lifestyles is more effective, Eberhart-Phillips said. That will require getting public health officials involved in local politics."

My comments: The problems are society face are all linked together to various degrees and are going to require some systematic, wide ranging shifts in behavior and attitude to address. Increasing diseases such as diabetes, rising health care costs, a focus on defense spending vs. education, closing neighborhood schools, urban sprawl, use of personal vehicles vs. public transporation and/or walking, lack of exercise/growing demands of our time that must be dedicated to working, energy consumption, GHG emmissions, global warming, environmental degradation - this and more are all linked.